Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Summer My Life Began

The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland
3/5 stars
Speak, 2012
249 pages
YA Contemporary

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Given the title and cover, this seemed like a cute summer read so even though it is not officially summer yet, I wanted to give this a shot. I was able to read through it in only a few sittings one day due to the brevity.

However I wasn't really able to connect with the characters, which ultimately hindered my enjoyment. Main character Elizabeth Margaret has always done what is expected of her and is prepared for an internship before going to Harvard and then becoming a lawyer like her father. She would rather be a chef and try new things instead of accepting the life mapped out for her by her grandmother and parents. But she wasn't going to try that until she receives an offer from an aunt she never knew she had to visit for the summer. 

Elizabeth Margaret or Em as she prefers to be called was pretty bland. She complained about how controlling her parents were but she didn't seem willing to give up her cushy life to pursue something else; the idea never even occurred to her until she visits her aunt. I did like her sister but since sis stays home, there wasn't very much of her. The other characters are cartoonish caricatures in the case of the grandmother and parents, so much so that they didn't seem like real people or just on the quirky side in the case of Em's aunt Tilly. There is also a romantic interest who was not to my taste. None of them received sufficient development in my opinion; I can't care about a character who is just flat.

As for plot, for the most part, the book just goes along until Em uncovers the big family secret that I had kind of already guessed at and reacts very predictably. This happens pretty close to the end and could have caused an emotional impact except that I didn't feel anything for the characters and it was all pretty abrupt.

Overall: I feel largely indifferent to the writing and characterizations. Instead of a cute sweet book, I feel like I ended up with something aspiring to be deeper but failing.


  1. I was looking forward to this one and I just got it for review from NetGalley. I'm sorry that it disappointed you. The cover does make it look like a good summer read but it is hard when the protagonist is hard to like and the plot is too predictable.

  2. See, characters are SO important to me, so it really is disheartening to hear that the characterization is not all that good. I guess I will keep that in mind and be prepared when I read The Summer My Life Began.


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